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Major Private Collection to Highlight Christie's Sale of American Paintings and Sculpture
Milton Avery (1885-1965), Cello Player, oil on canvasboard. Painted in 1944, $300,000-500,000. Photo: Christie's Images Ltd 2010.
NEW YORK, NY.- A vibrant flower study by Georgia O'Keeffe consigned direct from the Santa Fe museum dedicated to the celebrated artist's work is just one of the highlights of Christie's upcoming sale of American Paintings, Drawings, and Sculpture on December 1 in New York. Prominent private collections with ties to some of America's most trusted brands form the backbone of the 149-lot sale, which includes works from the Collection of Charlotte and R. Philip Hanes, Jr., the CEO Emeritus of Hanes Companies; the Collection of Henry Luce III, the late publisher of Time and Fortune magazines; the Estate of John V.A. Murray, grandson of Esquire Magazine founder William H. Weintraub; and the Estate of Irene Mennen Hunter, the late philanthropist and daughter of Mennen Company founder William Mennen.

The total sale, which includes major works by John Singer Sargent, Georgia O'Keeffe, Milton Avery, George Bellows, Thomas Moran, and Maxfield Parrish among others is expected to achieve in excess of $22 million. The public preview opens Saturday, November 27 and runs through November 30. Among the star lots of the sale is O'Keeffe's Canna Red and Orange from 1926 (estimate: $1.2-1.8 million), a stellar example of one of the artist's most celebrated themes - the single flower. The featured work is a close-up, magnified image of a crimson and orange flower blossom that nearly fills the entire canvas, with petals curling and twisting over each other. Perceived to be unabashedly sensual - even overtly erotic - when they were first exhibited to the public beginning in 1923, O'Keeffe's flower paintings were extraordinarily controversial and sought-after, and made the artist an instant celebrity in the art world. Canna Red and Orange was originally owned by New York’s Downtown Gallery, until it was sold into a private collection in 1960. It was later gifted to the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum in 1997 and has been widely published and exhibited at the museum since. Proceeds from the sale of the painting will benefit the museum's acquisition fund.

Additional highlights include:

• John Singer Sargent (1856-1925) Ricordi di Capri oil on panel Painted in 1878 $1,500,000 - 2,500,000

A superb example of Sargent’s fresh and original approach to plein air painting, Ricordi di Capri was executed in the autumn of 1878, when the artist was just 22 years old. Sargent had returned to Naples and Capri that year in the company of his fellow artists, after completing his formal art training in Paris. Rich with color, texture and light, this jewel-like painting of two Capri children on a staircase beautifully illustrates Sargent's early mastery of both Impressionist technique and modernist style.

• George Bellows (1882-1925) Between Rounds charcoal and crayon on paper laid down on board Executed in 1912 $600,000 - 800,000

From the Estate of Irene Mennen Hunter A superlative example of Bellows’ skill as a draughtsman, Between Rounds is a powerful depiction of both the physicality and psychology of boxing – a sport that fascinated the artist. The drawing is one of two boxing drawings included in the seminal Armory Show exhibition of Modern Art in 1913. It has never before been offered to the public, having been acquired for the Mennen family collection direct from the estate of the artist.

• Milton Avery (1885-1965) Cello Player oil on canvasboard Painted in 1944 $300,000-500,000

From the Estate of John V.A. Murray This brightly-hued work is offered entirely fresh to the market, having been maintained in the family collection of Esquire Magazine founder William H. Weintraub since its purchase from the artist’s estate in 1966. Painted in 1944, this modernized view of a familiar domestic scene is an beautifully orchestrated arrangement of color and pattern, with the smoothness of the cello balanced by the coarseness of its strings, and the circular patterns of the cellist’s blouse contrasted with the textures of her jumper. With its distinctive style of simplified forms and blocks of color, the painting bears all the hallmarks of Avery's most notable works.

• Maurice Brazil Prendergast (1859-1924) Fountain, Central Park watercolor and pencil on paper $700,000-1,000,000

From the Collection of Charlotte and R. Philip Hanes, Jr. Painted around 1899, Fountain, Central Park illustrates Prendergast’s fascination with the everyday activities of the emerging “leisure class” at the turn of the century. Central Park was his preferred setting for these studies of modern life, as the formal design of the park offered a brilliant counterpoint to the artist’s dynamic style of composition. This exceptional watercolor has been part of the Hanes’ extensive collection for over three decades and has never before been offered at auction.

• Robert Henri (1865-1929) The Blue Plaid Dress (Annie) oil on canvas Painted in 1927 $500,000-700,000

As the celebrated artist and leader of New York’s Ashcan School, Robert Henri is best remembered for his spirited portraits of children. In The Blue Plaid Dress (Annie), Henri deftly portrays a young Irish girl in formal three-quarter length style, rendering her likeness with dashing strokes of color. The portrait is not a commissioned work; rather, Henri sought out individuals whose features specifically appealed to his artist’s eye. As part of a remarkable group of Henri portraits depicting the children of Achill Island in Ireland, this particular work has been selected for an upcoming exhibition organized by the Mint Museum of Art in North Carolina.

• Maxfield Parrish (1870-1966) Autumn Brook Oil on board Painted in 1948 $400,000-600,000

Painstakingly executed by building layer upon layer of glazes, Parrish’s Autumn Brook is a glowing example of the artist’s late career painting style, when he elected to focus exclusively on landscapes. His masterful handling of paint and keen understanding of color are at their apex here, as he transforms a bubbling brook, imbuing it with a sense of magic and wonder. The sky behind the trees radiates with the artist’s celebrated signature blue tone, an intense hue that has come to be known as “Parrish Blue”. Maintained in a private collection since the mid 1970s, this stellar painting is sure to inspire interest from collectors of the artist’s great works.

• Thomas Moran (1827-1926) Sunrise Landscape Oil on canvas Painted in 1897 $400,000-600,000

This season, Christie’s is pleased to offer an exceptional selection of Western Art, led by a group of landscapes by the 19th century artist Thomas Moran. A highlight is Sunrise Landscape, a poetic work that conveys the artist’s adoration and reverence for the Western landscape. Reminiscent of a Turner painting, the work resonates with fiery tones of orange, yellow and green, creating a brilliant and romantic view of the region’s rugged topography.

Auction: Important American Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture December 1, 2010
Viewing: Christie’s Rockefeller Center Galleries Saturday, November 27 – Tuesday, November 30

Christie's | American Paintings | Georgia O'Keeffe | Milton Avery |


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